Foundation Center Focus on Education
Poverty - Expanding Financial Services in Developing Countries

Expanding Financial Services in Developing Countries


“It is the ability to control capital that gives people the power to rise out of poverty.”
— Muhammad Yunus, Founder, Grameen Bank


Less than 4% of foundation giving for poverty in developing countries in 2007 supported expanding access to financial services


How can we use investment as a tool to lift people out of poverty?


  • Make community investment accessible to a wide audience
  • Create investment products that blend financial and social returns
  • Mobilize individual investor capital to support microfinance

Case Study

  • Web service launched by eBay in 2007
  • People invest in the world’s working poor while earning financial returns
  • Calvert Foundation was the first issuer to sell investments on its site
  • Funds raised by the Calvert Foundation from securities sales are invested in microfinance institutions targeted by online investors
  • Calvert Foundation received $16 million in grants from private funders for start-up costs and a risk capital pool
  • Funders include Omidyar Network, MacArthur and Rockefeller foundations


MicroPlace’s first-year successes:
  • More than 6,500 members
  • More than 26,000 loans to entrepreneurs in 34 countries
  • Higher than 2% average return on investment, while the S&P returned -35.97%

Research Sources

Microfinance: An Emerging Investment Opportunity
Deutsche Bank


Calvert Social Investment Foundation

Leading Foundations Bolster Calvert Foundation in Online Microfinance Initiative Investing in the Working Poor

MicroPlace Launches Investment Website to Address Global Poverty

Omidyar Network

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

The Rockefeller Foundation
© Foundation Center
All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy